CSIS Audio Commentary: Charles Freeman on President Hu’s Trip to the Nuclear Summit
April 9, 2010
WASHINGTON, April 9, 2010 – The Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS)’ Charles Freeman, the CSIS Freeman Chair in China studies, has recorded a short interview on President Hu’s upcoming trip to the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington.
Please find a link to the interview below:
Please find a transcript of the interview below:
Question: The relationship between the United States and China seemed to calm down after the conversation between Presidents Obama and Hu. Do you see President Hu’s trip to the Nuclear Summit as a mechanism for advancing these slightly more cordial relations?
Freeman: “Well certainly in the absence of President Hu I think things would be significantly worse and at least the public perception both here in the United States and in China has been that the relationship has been on the slide. I think both President Obama and President Hu really want to correct that impression the best they can so having President Hu here is certainly one way of doing that.”
Question: What is your view on the delay of Treasury’s report on the currencies of our trading partners? Do you believe China is a currency manipulator?
Freeman: “The word currency manipulator within the context of the Treasury Report is pretty loaded. It is a term of art and so it is difficult to call China by that name. China certainly does intervene in currency markets to preserve the value of the Renminbi but a lot of countries do that. The question of whether or not to name China a currency manipulator comes down to a question of international face. To some degree, I think that the Treasury looks at public pressure from Congress and others to name China a currency manipulator through the context of, ‘what does that mean for the trade deficit, what does that mean for American jobs and manufacturing employment,’ it is a very loaded issue. The bottom line is that for the purposes of trying to preserve good relations with China, you do not necessarily want to dump a negative name on China as President Hu vacates the premises just after the nuclear summit. It would not necessarily be acting as a good host and would result in President Hu losing a fair amount of face. If nothing else, kicking the currency decision or the manipulator decision down the road is probably sound politics and good manners.”
Question: Is the U.S.-China relationship going to stall again in the near future when another contentious issue comes to the fore?
Freeman: “The fundamental problem in the US-China relationship is a lack of strategic trust and so when you do have any individual challenge, whether it’s an arms sale to Taiwan or a meeting with the Dali Lama, a process where the two countries and the two navies bump into one another at sea you are going to have that fundamental challenge creep up. Without the sense of fundamental and strategic trust between the two countries you are always going to be open to frictions from any minor incident.”
The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) is a private, tax-exempt institution focusing on international public policy issues. Its research is nonpartisan and nonproprietary. CSIS does not take specific policy positions; accordingly, all views, positions, and conclusions expressed in these publications should be understood to be solely those of the authors.
H. Andrew Schwartz